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Syracuse 78, No. 16 Virginia Tech 60: Orange hop back into NCAA Tournament picture with win over ranked Hokies

Syracuse improved to 9-4 on the season and 3-3 in the league play with a home win over Virginia Tech.

NCAA Basketball: Virginia Tech at Syracuse Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

SYRACUSE, N.Y. — The Syracuse Orange men’s basketball team earned its first victory over a ranked opponent in over a year, taking down the No. 16 Virginia Tech Hokies by a final score of 78-60 inside the Carrier Dome. The last ranked win came against No. 16 Virginia on Jan. 11, 2020. Syracuse earned its first quadrant two victory of the season, hopping back in the NCAA Tournament bubble picture.

Jim Boeheim made no changes to his starting five, rolling out Joe Girard, Buddy Boeheim, Alan Griffin, Quincy Guerrier and Marek Dolezaj. Bourama Sidibe and Frank Anselem were unavailable, per Syracuse Athletics.

Both teams came out strong on the offensive end following the tip. Stylistically, Syracuse and Virginia Tech got it done in contrasting ways; Virginia Tech got hot from outside while Syracuse established the ball inside. Hokie wing Nahiem Alleyne made his first three 3s early. He went 1-4 the rest of the half from deep.

Syracuse, on the other hand, worked it inside to Marek Dolezaj while forwards Quincy Guerrier and Alan Griffin crashed the offensive glass from the wings. It worked to great avail as Syracuse scored 14 second-chance points in the first half on eight offensive boards. Virginia Tech scored 18 points from three to Syracuse’s three, while the Orange had 26 points in the paint to Virginia Tech’s 10.

After the first eight minutes of play, Kadary Richmond marked Boeheim’s first substitution off the bench, supplanting Girard. He wasn’t the spark that he was in the Miami game, but still scored four points with smaller guard Jalen Cone defending him nonetheless. Jesse Edwards played sparingly with Dolezaj playing well and staying out of foul trouble. Edwards only played two minutes, but did have one strong defensive stand against Keve Aluma.

Dolezaj paced Syracuse with 14 first half points and the Orange took a 40-34 lead into the half.

NCAA Basketball: Virginia Tech at Syracuse Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

Syracuse allowed Virginia Tech to work the ball inside more in the second half and the Hokies were able to cut into the lead early, but Syracuse responded methodically on offense and got the Hokies into foul trouble.

Dolezaj drew Aluma’s third foul in the early going, which earned him a seat on the bench in favor of David N’Guessan. He quickly picked up two fouls (his fourth) and after a Jalen Cone foul on Girard — which marked four consecutive whistles agains the Hokies — Mike Young made his voice heard: “Hey Bill, how about something down here?” Young shouted to the referee.

With the game slipping away from Young’s squad, Girard stole the ball for a layup and gave Syracuse it’s largest lead of the game at 53-44.

After a quick back and forth sequence, Girard found Griffin in transition for a slam. Guerrier followed that up with a triple and two made free throws broke the game open at 63-48. Virginia Tech never threatened down the stretch and Syracuse cruised to a 78-60 victory, its second straight and first ranked win of the season.

Guerrier led Syracuse in scoring with 20 points and nine rebounds. Dolezaj had 18 points and six rebounds while Alan Griffin finished with a double-double, churning out 15 points, 10 rebounds and seven blocked shots. Richmond finished with 13 points off the bench.

Syracuse won the battle in the paint 46-24 and the rebounding battle 37-35.

Next up

Syracuse hits the road for an away game at No. 13 Virginia on Monday. That game tips at 7:00 p.m. from John Paul Jones Arena and airs on ESPN.